Make Ahead

The World's Best Carrot Cake

February 25, 2011
Author Notes

This isn't really my recipe. I originally got this recipe from a college friend, who got it from her grandmother (who, is a classic Jewish Grandma and is also the originator of the World’s Best Rugalach recipe). I made it for my family for my youngest brother’s confirmation party, and was begged/forced, practically under the threat of disinheritance, to copy the recipe into my mom’s little recipe book immediately. Since then, my mother has served it at every special event she hosts, and it has become famous across the entire town where my parents live. This cake is so good, my dad, who usually couldn’t care less for cake, will look for excuses for it to be served, and will even eat leftovers of it for breakfast. Which, by the way, I highly recommend. It’s kind of a spectacularly sinful breakfast. It is very moist and dense, not one of those light fluffy types of carrot cakes (of course, if you prefer those you might not really like this one. But, that's okay. More for me!) —fiveandspice

  • Makes 1 9-inch cake
  • 3 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 cups finely shredded/grated carrot
  • 8 ounces crushed pineapple, drained
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts or pecans, lightly toasted
  • your favorite cream cheese frosting recipe
In This Recipe
  1. Preheat your oven to 350F. Grease and four a 9 in. round cake pan or a bundt pan. I usually use a 9 inch springform pan.
  2. Combine dry ingredients in a small bowl. Add oil, sugar and vanilla to eggs. Beat well. Stir in dry ingredients and mix well. Stir in carrots, walnuts, and pineapple. Scrape into the greased cake pan (I do not believe in dividing 2 layer cakes between 2 pans, I think they have much better texture if you bake it all in one thick layer and then cut it in half horizontally. It gives a much better surface texture in the middle for interfacing with frosting.).
  3. Bake until cake springs back when pressed and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean (I cannot remember how long this actually takes, I just always go by testing, but I think it’s just a bit over an hour. Less if you're using a bundt pan).
  4. Let cool about 10 min. Loosen edges with a knife and invert onto a plate, then place a serving platter over the cake and holding the cake between the plate and the serving platter, flip it again so that it is right side up on the serving dish. Or if you are using a springform pan, just remove the outside. If desired (which, of course it is), allow to cool completely then frost with your favorite recipe of cream cheese frosting. I usually cut the cake in half and spread the frosting in a layer on the bottom half, then put the top half back on, but leave that unfrosted and sprinkle it with powdered sugar to decorate before serving. You could also just frost the top (and if you made a bundt, that's kind of the only surface available for frosting). I don’t think it needs frosting on more than one layer though, unless you feel like popping from sheer richness.
  5. To make a simple cream cheese frosting, beat together 1 package of softened cream cheese with 2-3 Tbs. of softened butter (unsalted) and 1 tsp. vanilla extract until smooth. Beat in confectioner's sugar until you reach the consistency of frosting you like (about 1 cup, or so, in my experience).
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I like to say I'm a lazy iron chef (I just cook with what I have around), renegade nutritionist, food policy wonk, and inveterate butter and cream enthusiast! My husband and I own a craft distillery in Northern Minnesota called Vikre Distillery (, where I claimed the title, "arbiter of taste." I also have a doctorate in food policy, for which I studied the changes in diet and health of new immigrants after they come to the United States. I myself am a Norwegian-American dual citizen. So I have a lot of Scandinavian pride, which especially shines through in my cooking on special holidays. Beyond loving all facets of food, I'm a Renaissance woman (translation: bad at focusing), dabbling in a variety of artistic and scientific endeavors.